Sorry, Mark Halsey, but you had a shocker last night

by Paul Connolly

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

I usually admire Mark Halsey. He’s battled with cancer and won so far and he’s one of our better referees – he generally doesn’t litter games with cards for minor offences.

But in last night’s FA Cup replay in which Manchester City thumped Leicester 4-2, he had an absolute nightmare.

He gave Leicester a penalty when Lloyd Dyer had no chance of getting the ball. I’ve no argument with that as it was a foul by Patrick Vieira but Halsey then missed a big shove on Carlos Tevez a few minutes later in a similar situation at the other end.

Then, right at the end of the first half, Halsey and his assistants somehow contrived to miss Leicester’s lumbering old thug, Steve Howard, essentially assaulting Joe Hart with a glaringly obvious elbow to the stomach. Howard should have been sent off there and then.

Of course, Halsey’s most obvious cock-up was in not sending off Jack Hobbs when the Leicester defender brought down Carlos Tevez when the striker was clean through on goal in the second half. He didn’t even book the player.

I could make a fuss about Leicester’s second goal being offside (which it was) or Halsey’s inadvertent contribution to it but in the first instance he was let down by his linesman and in the second instance a ref getting in the way of the ball is just one of those things – it wasn’t Halsey’s fault. What was Halsey’s fault was that the move was started by a pass from Jack Hobbs, who should not have been on the field by then.

You might say that Halsey is being true to form as he doesn’t like to dish out cards. But neither Howard’s or Hobbs’s were minor offences – they should have been straight red cards.

As I said, I generally admire Mark Halsey as one of our better refs but last night proved to be one of his few bad nights at the office. Let’s hope it’s his last.

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